Hello From DC: Lessons from My Judicial Internship

It feels like just yesterday when I was getting ready to pack my car and head to Boston for my first year of law school. Now, the last week of my internship is quickly approaching and it’s hard to believe that on-campus interviews (or “OCI”) are right around the corner.

I spent this past summer interning for a judge at the D.C. Superior Court who presided over domestic relations matters. Coming from a divorced family myself, I was intrigued to learn about how these issues were handled in court. But part of me also worried that I would not truly be able to immerse myself in the subject area when I had no exposure to it from my first year’s classes and no intention of pursuing a career in family law.

However, I am happy to report back that interning for a judge exposed me to a lot, taught me important skills for my future career, and made me excited for next year’s classes. Here’s a breakdown of lessons I learned:

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Why You Should Apply For The Semester-in-Practice in Dublin

I’m pleased to host a guest post by Ned Melanson ’19, who writes about one of BC Law’s several programs that place students in legal internships in other countries. 


Picture this: It’s Wednesday, 5:30pm, in late February in Boston. You, a 2L still coming down from the whirlwind of 1L (or a 3L starting to feel like a caged bird ready to spread your wings), are sitting on the yellow room couches with your law school chums, waiting for that night class to start. You are wondering why you were too lazy to sign up for a morning class and subjected yourself to a 6:00pm. The light fades from the Newton sky as you and your compatriots trade gossip from the last weekend or discuss plans for the upcoming, yet still distant one. Outside it’s cold and there’s snow in the parking lot.

Now picture this: It’s Wednesday, 5:30pm, in late February, in Dublin. You, adventurous and with great foresight, are sitting in O’Donoghue’s pub, just around the corner from the beautiful Georgian brick building that houses BC Ireland. Surrounding you are a group of equally adventurous BC Law 2L and 3L’s, most of whom you could not have named before this semester, but now you wouldn’t hesitate in calling them friends. You’re listening to the two chaps in the corner booth play a fully unplugged set of classic Irish folk songs; occasionally one will stand up and reprimand the crowd for not being quiet enough or to pass around the hat. You’ve spent most of the day working at your internship at a well-respected Irish law firm, dedicated non-profit, budding tech company, or maybe the world’s largest aircraft leasing company. The Guinness sitting in front of you is rumored to be the best in Dublin.

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An Update from New Orleans

I have the privilege of spending my summer in New Orleans, working on indigent capital appeals. A lot of my day is spent in the organization’s library, digging into criminal law research questions. I’ve also had the opportunity to join an attorney at a status conference for a federal civil suit challenging the heat conditions on death row, and to visit some of our clients there.

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This is my house for the summer, a carriage house converted into a studio. A few things about New Orleans: it’s humid (imagine living in the moment when you step out of a hot shower), the streets flood (past your ankles), the cockroaches are prolific (and big), and it’s one of the most amazing cities I’ve been in.

I’m looking forward to the next eight weeks here, learning more about the city and meeting more incredible attorneys who are dedicating their lives to saving those of others.

Becoming a “Stonecatcher”

“I don’t have a voice. But when you speak on my behalf, I get heard.”

As a law student, I don’t usually consider myself to be in a position of power or influence. In fact, I usually feel quite intimidated, whether I’m with a professor during office hours, trying to sound intelligent (when I’m actually utterly confused about the subject), or at a job interview, doing my best to persuade the interviewers that I’m a worthy candidate (while trying not to shake and stutter from anxiety).

So when my client Joseph* said those words to me, I practically burst into tears. Me? A mere law student? Give him a voice?

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Behind Closed Doors

When people asked me about my summer (How was work? Did you like what you did?), I found it difficult to provide an adequate account of what I was doing. I spent my summer with the Child Protection Unit at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. The Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) there form part of the team that investigates and, if appropriate, prosecutes instances of child physical and sexual abuse in Suffolk County, which includes Boston, Revere, Chelsea, and Winthrop. At the Superior Court level almost all of the cases they handle deal with allegations of sexual abuse involving children. To be clear, the following will include a discussion of those cases, and some of it may be difficult to read. Continue reading

Project Dignity: A Happy Experiential Learning Accident

I’m so excited to be hosting a guest blog from 2L Lauren Koster on her public interest experiential learning experience.

For the spring semester of our 1L year, Boston College Law introduced an exciting element of choice: selecting an experiential learning elective to start building the skills it takes to be a lawyer. Some of our classmates opted for a course to practice negotiation or civil litigation. In the course of my choosing, “Leadership, Communication, and Social Justice for the Public Interest Practitioner,” our experiential element was driven entirely by a team project of our own design.

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My Summer with a Judge

What’s it like to be a judge?

It’s my sixth week of working for Judge Dineen Riviezzo of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court. Judge Riviezzo hears felony cases and Article 10 civil confinement cases. Also, every Friday, she’s in charge of the juvenile offender part, where she hears cases involving 14, 15, and 16-year-olds who would normally be heard in Family Court, but because they commit certain serious crimes, are heard in Supreme Court (but are often afforded youthful offender treatment).

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View of Brooklyn from the Judge’s chambers

So far, I can say that being a judge requires three major qualities.

First, it requires patience. Whether it’s dealing with an attorney’s mistake, sorting out a disagreement between the parties, or waiting for a defendant to be produced or parties to show up, I’ve learned that for judges, every day is a test of patience. Continue reading

Summer Associate, Week 1: 59 Thoughts

Okay, so granted, I was also a summer associate last year.

Last summer, I wrote to you about what it was like to be a 1L at a firm and how much I was able to do despite how little we feel like we learn in law school. After having the honor of being asked back to the same firm for this summer, I decided to shake it up a little bit. I was feeling inspired by BuzzFeed’s recent posts of the same nature on Season 6 of Game of Thrones, so I decided to give you all an “unfiltered” peek into what my first week as a summer associate at a firm in Western New York was like, with some Michael Scott references peppered in — because, after all, I do work in an office.

  1. Heels hurt. I can practically hear my toes monologuing about why they hate me.
  2. Okay, but the way heels click across a floor makes you sound like a boss. I feel like I’m in the beginning of that Jordan Sparks song. Like, look at me, I’m important, I know where I’m going-
  3. Uh oh. Where am I going?
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Watch BC Law Students Argue at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals!

As part of BC Law’s Center for Experiential Learning Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, four of our third-year law students prepared briefs and argued today in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of indigent clients.

In the Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, supervised law students prepare briefs and argue immigration cases brought by indigent clients who would otherwise be without counsel. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in San Francisco and hearing cases arising from Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona, screens pro se cases and selects those that present important issues that deserve further development. Past cases have included asylum, withholding, Convention Against Torture claims, questions relating to immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and issues of statutory interpretation that present questions of first impression to the Court.

The Court schedules the opening brief to be filed in October, the reply brief in January, and oral argument before a panel of sitting judges in April of the same academic year. Students travel to the court hearing to present oral argument. The Court then issues its decision based on the merits of the individual cases.

Students develop and apply numerous skills, including client communication, legal research, brief writing, and oral advocacy.

These students have been preparing all year for this day, and you can watch their arguments here:

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A Letter to the Class of 2019 from the President-Elect of the LSA

Editor’s Note: Alex Porter will serve as the President of the Boston College Law Students Association for the 2016-17 academic year. Much like his predecessor, Alex embodies the very best qualities that BC Law students have to offer. As a member of the Boston College Law Review alongside him, I know for a fact that as incoming students you will be in very capable hands. Without further ado, I am very pleased to present his welcome letter to the Class of 2019.

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President-Elect Alex Porter (second from right) along with three of his classmates.

Congratulations on your admission to Boston College Law School!

This August, you will become the newest (and most celebrated!) members of our truly extraordinary community.  It is a community that eschews one-size-fits-all happiness because we choose instead to value the whole person.  Here, it matters that you were the captain of your track team in college, or served as an aide to the Secretary of Transportation, or had first-hand knowledge of tort law due to an unfortunate car accident.  Here, whether your family came on the Mayflower or whether you just stepped off the plane from Bangalore, your classmates will want to know – and will value – your story. Please understand that this doesn’t mean an easy ride; you will work harder than you ever have in your life, and you will be challenged to achieve more than you thought possible in the classroom and beyond. But you will do it in a supportive, caring environment that lifts you up so we all get there together, rather than tearing you down.

Friendly competition can be a great thing, but cutthroat competition is not, and we won’t stand for that here.

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